Welcome to another edition of deep sea diving into the free agent pool. SCUBA gear is recommended to navigate such mysterious territory. The baseball season starts tomorrow, and I am all ready for my stress level to skyrocket and hours of sleep to be lost! As a reminder, I will only be discussing players owned in 10% or less of leagues on CBS Sports.
Xavier Nady, ARI 1B/OF | 9% Owned
Remember him? Nady is slated to open the season as the D-Backs starting left fielder this year. After returning from Tommy John surgery and accumulating 347 plate appearances in 2010, his power was down and strikeout rate up, but he deserves a mulligan given what he was recovering from. At 32 years old, Nady is not over the hill just yet and he has posted some solid results in the past. Before the surgery, he had consistently displayed above average power, with ISO rates ranging between .169 and .205. The lack of fly balls (35.2% career rate) hurts his home run upside, but league average contact combined with mid-teen HR/FB ratios (assuming he could get back there) mean 20+ bombs given a full season’s worth of at-bats. Nady has also spent most of his career in pitcher’s park while in San Diego and Pittsburgh, but now gets a chance to call Chase Field home, where run scoring jumps by 12% and right-handed home runs increase by 6%. I certainly would not expect a repeat of 2008, but his 2006 performance could be matchable. In an NL-Only league, it is likely that the majority of your league mates have completely forgotten about Nady, which means that he has excellent potential to yield a profit for your team.
Chris Heisey, CIN OF | 2% Owned
Heisey is set to act as the Reds fourth outfielder, with his best chance at significant playing time coming at the expense of current incumbent Jonny Gomes. With Gomes sporting a mediocre career .340 wOBA and playing awful defense, Heisey may very well be the better baseball player of the two right now. Heisey is already 26, so he is no longer a prospect, but he has displayed a decent assortment of skills during his minor league days and short time with the Reds last season. Though he struggled to make contact in his debut last year, he typically posted strikeout rates in the mid-teens, though his walk rate has jumped around from well below average to just average. He has displayed above average power and even stole over 20 bases each season from 2007-2009. In his 201 at-bats with the Reds in 2010, his batted ball profile is what you would like to see from a power hitter- 45% fly balls and 19% line drives. Assuming better contact, that could lead to a 25 home run pace in however many at-bats he ultimately receives. In a time when the term “sleeper” has almost completely lost its meaning, Heisey is one of the few still left that represent the label to a T.